09 November 2009
The SEC Western Division Champion Alabama football team hit the practice field in Tuscaloosa this afternoon in preparation for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. As is the custom on Monday, the squad practiced in shells.
Here's what you need to know;
The injury news is good. Not only was Colin Peek able to practice in his white jersey, but Terry Grant and Dre Kirkpatrick were also cleared to practice again. The LSU game has been a notoriously tough one in recent memory, and the Tide looks to have come out of things unscathed.
Nick Saban said when he got to Alabama that he wanted to field the toughest team in the SEC. The fact that Alabama came out of a game as hard fought and physical as Saturday's contest with no injuries is astounding... especially when compared to the physical beating that LSU took.
Reserve offensive lineman Chance Warmack missed practice due to the flu.
After a bunch of weeks of playing mostly nickel and dime packages on defense, the base 3-4 is set to get a heavy week of work. Mississippi State ranks 11th in the nation in rushing offense (219.22 ypg) and only 105th in passing offense (165.44 ypg). That should mean lots of work for Nico Johnson, who has played quite well in his limited time in recent games.
The Bulldogs are led by Anthony Dixon who trails only Mark Ingram in the SEC at 125.12 yards per game. Dixon is a big, powerful back that gets most of his yards between the tackles. Unfortunately for Dixon, "between the tackles" means right at Terrence Cody, Brandon Deaderick, Lorenzo Washington, and Rolando McClain.
It is a bit of a different look for the Tide, with the power rushing game coming from a "spread" set. State's head coach is former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, and the Bulldogs attempt to run a similar offense. Tyson Lee is no Tim Tebow, though, and State averages 26.89 points per game - 67th in the nation and 9th in the SEC.
Being one dimensional against Alabama's defense is a bad idea. Having that one dimension be the run is even worse. Don't just focus on the names I mentioned above. Expect to also see Josh Chapman, Marcel Dareus, Luther Davis, and possibly Kerry Murphy and Nick Gentry. The big fellows have waited all year to face a team that will try to run the ball right at them, and this is their game.
While the Bulldogs are an effective rushing offense, they've struggled to stop the run, allowing an average of 147.44 yards per game. That ranks them 66th nationally and 9th in the SEC. When you consider that Bama ranks 14th nationally, averaging 214 yards per game on the ground, this doesn't look like much of a matchup.
Mark Ingram is relatively fresh coming off of his 22 carry performance on Saturday. Even more fresh are Trent Richardson and Roy Upchurch. Neither guy has had more than 10 carries in a game in quite some time. Look for all three to get involved this weekend.
Alabama will practice again on Tuesday, and we'll have our normal report.
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